San Francisco Flamenco Dance Company
NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Spain
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Kerensa DeMars
First appearance in SF EDF: 2016
The San Francisco Flamenco Dance Company presents performances in the San Francisco Bay Area, hosts visiting artists from Spain, and supports the development of local Flamenco artists through workshops and performance opportunities. The company presents live dance performances every Sunday night in the heart of San Francisco. Company founder and artistic director Kerensa DeMars trained professionally in Spain and performs internationally. She is the recipient of a 2016 Individual Artist commission Award from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
DANCE ORIGIN: Andalucía, Spain
CHOREOGRAPHERS/DANCERS: Melissa Cruz, Kerensa DeMars
MUSICIANS: Daniel Fríes (guitar), Azriel Goldschmidt (vocals)
In the pure flamenco idiom, the style called farruca is accompanied primarily by guitar. In this presentation, however, dancer-choreographers Melissa Cruz and Kerensa DeMars followed their inspiration to include as a lyrical introduction the beautiful song Vidalita. And they set their duet to intricate guitar melodies, vocals, and palmas hand-clapping. The farruca style was traditionally danced only by men. Here, the two women summon their flamenco angels, performing the dance with precision and focus: a choreography of powerful staccato footwork, strong lines, and sharp rhythmic changes.
Flamenco is the dynamic and emotional art form born in Andalucía, Spain. Its roots are in Roma, Moorish, Andalucian, and Sephardic music, and it found its modern form—and an audience—in the lively cafes of 19th-century Seville. Flamenco’s foundation is its music—the song. Cante jondo, deep song, is the dark song of poetry at flamenco’s heart; Vidalita is part of the cantes de ida y vuelta, flamenco styles influenced by Spanish migrations to South America. The lyrics sing of lost love:
...y en ella te canto, Vidalita
el dolor que siento.
Ya se secó el arbolito
donde cantaba el pavo real
ya se murió, mi china querida
ya no la vuelvo a ver más...
...and in my sorrow I sing to you,
Vidalita, and the pain I feel.
The little tree has withered
where the peacock used to sing
My love has died
I’ll never see her again...
The farruca style was created at the turn of the last century by the Seville-born dancer, Faíco, of the flamenco family known as Los Pelaos. It has become an established dance within the flamenco lexicon, and has been expanded upon and reinterpreted by many artists from Antonio Gades to Carmen Amaya. The last remaining dancer of the Pelao dynasty, Toni “El Pelao,” mentored Kerensa DeMars during her studies in Spain. Here in the Bay Area, Melissa Cruz and Kerensa DeMars are known for another radical move: dancing farruca in sleek-lined dresses, using their masculine bolero jackets like the baile de mantón flamenco shawl. This performance proves flamenco’s exceptional popularity outside of Spain, growing over the past sixty years. The dancers developed this marvelous presentation as well-known dancers in Bay Area’s flamenco community—a vibrant community of visiting artists from Spain and skilled local artists trained in Spain.
The piece was created in 2013 as a collaborative choreography by Melissa Cruz and Kerensa DeMars for the production Flamenca, and reset with new music in 2015.
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